Last week I turned 44. Wow, the time passes soooooo quickly, doesn’t it? I was diagnosed at 40 & sure as starch didn’t think my 44th would be spent celebrating life. Dead people don’t get glorious massages. LOL.
Ordinarily I spend my celebratory week out of the country, exploring new things and remembering how to connect with my SELF, relax, and enjoy my time on this planet. This year, however, I opted to vacation at home in NYC and be nice to Gigi. What a spectacular day!!! Spectacular primarily because I’m vertical, secondly because I’m able to fully care for and sustain my existence, thirdly because there truly is joy in every moment of every day.
I awoke kicking myself because my massage was scheduled at 9:15a. The hilarious thing is that I scheduled it!!! Me…the chick who’s pretty much allergic to mornings. Duh. So after being walked about the neighborhood by my dog, I darted off to my appointment waaaaaayyyy on the other side of the City. If you’ve never had a massage, what are you waiting for??? Once you find someone who rubs you the right way there are few things you’ll appreciate more. Trust me.
Back on the other side of town was my 11:30a appointment with my all-time favorite hair stylist. To say that my hair is “special” is an understatement. Since chemo, though, it’s a whole new level of “Lord-Help-Me-I-Don’t-Wanna-Comb-This-Mess.” How this man consistently manages to whip my curly/wavy/tangled tresses into a billowing blanket of diva-liciousness is beyond me. And all in under 30 minutes. He even gave me a complimentary Happy Birthday Cut!!! Let the church say, “Amen!” When I left the salon there were replicated versions of Cloud 9 beneath my tootsies….which I happily followed to the nail salon.
Pampered princess? Nah, not ordinarily. I’m fairly frugal, and not too keen on letting other folks handle my grooming needs. Goddess??? You betcha! I am rather fabulous in my own sort of way. Whatever I’m having done or doing has to be so close to perfect that any flaws are imperceptible. Needless to say, I do most things myself. However, not on my birthday. Outrageous orange for the fingers, tantalizing pink for the toes. For the second time in a day my feet were delightfully massaged. AND I sat in the massage chair for the whole time. Oh, yeah!
All that personal attention can make a girl hungry, and I’m one girl who can eat. Especially since I’d skipped breakfast. My destination? Mexican. Sour cream & cheese & jalapenos. WAIT!!! I can’t eat dairy!!! It was bad before the Whipple surgery in October, 2006, but now? Unh-unh!! Okay, so jalapenos. I had more than peppers. What else did I eat? The food wasn’t too impressive so my memory fails me; I attribute my short term memory loss to chemo, too. I spent the bulk of the time admiring my SCREAMING orange nails anyway. HA! Before I knew it, the day had gotten short. Time to walk the dog…again.
I zipped Uptown, played with my pooch, and took a nap. Hey, tell me you don’t appreciate an hour-long nap. You can’t say it, can you? The nap left me refreshed and rejuvenated for Phase 2 of my birthday. With the puppy fed and walked, I showered and dressed for my Broadway excursion. There’s nothing like a sappy, passionate musical to swell the heart. Boy-oh-boy did the heavens deliver!!!
There’s a new production of “Ragtime” running. I scored a second row seat on the aisle for a mere pittance. One word: Freakin’ WOW. Okay, so that’s two. There were times when I wanted to get up and sing and dance, too!!! Times when I wanted to slink down into the orchestra pit and borrow a clarinet to play along!!! Times when I wanted to shout, “Whooo-hooo!” At all times I was grateful for being here, on this planet, able to enjoy the sights and sounds of my day.
What’s that grumbling????
Like I said, “A girl’s gotta eat.” After “Ragtime” I’d planned to duck into a little Cuban spot, even if my poor pancreas no longer allows me to enjoy a good Mojito (or a bad one for that matter). At some point during the play, though, I got a maddening craving for baked macaroni & cheese. There was no shaking the desire. B. Smith’s Restaurant was my new target, and the kitchen closes at 11:00pm. I got there at 10:45pm. Oh yeah!!!
Catfish. Kale. Mashed potatoes. Collard greens (vegetarian, of course). And (are the harps playing?) baked mac & cheese. I don’t know what they put in it or how they make it, but I DO know that somebody’s grandmomma is back there in that kitchen. My mission began – Clean My Plate. So imagine my discord when the couple at the next table struck up a conversation. Ugh. Must. Eat. Food. They seemed like perfectly lovely folks, but Must. Eat. Food.
I gave into it. The socializing that I’m sometimes rather awkward at. Not only did they “seem like perfectly lovely folks,” they truly were. We yammered well into the evening whilst I shoveled grub into my face. Eventually I revealed that it was my birthday, to which they offered to buy me a celebratory drink. Bum pancreas = no booze. I declined. At which point they offered to buy me dessert. Bum pancreas = no sugar. Again, I painfully declined. I do love and miss a good dose of sugar. As we continued to talk, sharing laughs and little stories, the staff came from the back with a beautiful bread pudding topped with ice cream and a candle….singing happy birthday to ME!!! I wanted to cry. Such happiness. These people didn’t know me from Eve, and yet wanted to celebrate my birthday with me. Of course I couldn’t eat it. Drat! I made a wish, blew out the candle, & placed it on their table for them to consume.
Last year on my birthday trip to Costa Rica I met another great couple who surprised me with a cake. Where do these people come from & why aren’t there more like them? The world would be such a better place. Just as with the couple in Costa Rica, I decided to share my pancreatic cancer diagnosis with them. Partly because I didn’t want them to think me ungrateful for their kindness and company, but mostly because they are the type of people you value for the beings that they are. There’s something that whispers, “It’s okay.” And it was. There was no pity, no long faces, only congratulations and happiness at my being a 3 and a half year survivor. Now that’s cool.
As the night wound down, along with the contents of their wine bottle, we decided to part ways and call it a night. And as we exchanged hugs and fond farewells, the husband says, “Well since we couldn’t buy you a drink and you couldn’t eat the dessert, we’ve paid for your dinner.”
There are glorious people on the planet. There is happiness here. Despite certain circumstances and situations, life is grand. Enjoy it and LIVE!!!!